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Feline Calicivirus and Fleas

Mencke, N., M. Vobis, et al. (2009). “Transmission of feline calicivirus via the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis).” Parasitol Res 105(1): 185-9.

Feline calicivirus is an important and contagious pathogen of cats. It is often associated with respiratory disease that is most commonly mild and self-limiting. However, it may cause severe pneumonia, or rarely, a systemic lethal disease. Transmission occurs most commonly through direct and indirect contact between cats. This investigation examined the potential for fleas to spread the virus. Fleas were fed blood containing the virus, and their feces were collected. Infectious virus was found in the flea feces for more than a week after exposure, and the virus could be transmitted to susceptible kittens via the fleas. Thus fleas could be a potential source for spread of this virus. However, the level of virus artificially fed to the fleas in this experiment was very high. In addition, while inoculation of infected fleas via the nose and mouth in the kittens was effective in transmission, infestation of the kittens alone with the fleas was not efficient for virus transmission. The researchers conclude that fleas could potentially be a source for transmission of feline calicivirus and note that it emphasizes the importance of good flea control. However, spread by respiratory droplets and direct contact remains the most important modes of spread. Transmission via fleas would most likely be significant in situations of crowding and significant flea infestation. [MK]
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Related articles:
Radford, A. D., D. Addie, et al. (2009). “Feline calicivirus infection ABCD guidelines on prevention and management.” J Feline Med Surg 11(7): 556-64.
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Hurley, K., P. Pesavento, et al. (2004). “An outbreak of virulent systemic feline calicivirus disease.” J Amer Vet Med Assoc 224(2): 241-249.
>> PubMed Abstract